17 September, 2021

Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 17/09/2021

Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 17/09/2021 - mr-sean-oneill-weekly-update-17-09-2021
Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 17/09/2021 A good education is one which is broad, balanced and challenges students to engage in many ways of thinking, being and doing. As I look back at this last week at BIS, and ahead to the weeks to come, the breadth and variety of opportunities our students and staff are engaged in is quite remarkable.

Dear BIS community, 


A good education is one which is broad, balanced and challenges students to engage in many ways of thinking, being and doing. As I look back at this last week at BIS, and ahead to the weeks to come, the breadth and variety of opportunities our students and staff are engaged in is quite remarkable.


In a busy and successful school, it is important that the many aspects of school life are guided by clear principles that are based on our values. These values shape our priorities, which in turn shape what we do every day.


In this week’s update, I am delighted to share our Secondary Campus Priorities for the year ahead. These are the aims which we as a teaching team are committed to achieve for our students - everything  we do each day is to achieve these aims.


This week, once again, we have a huge amount of learning to celebrate - in our Virtual Lessons, our Virtual CCAs and Virtual Parental Engagement events. There are also many opportunities to be involved in the weeks ahead, all of which constitute the fabric of school life we are committed to maintain during this period of Virtual School.


I hope you enjoy reading this week's update and I encourage you and your families to be involved in the upcoming Parent Engagement and Community Events. 


With my best wishes to you all for a safe and restful weekend.


Sean O’Neill


Campus Priorities



Virtual School Experience- Spotlight on Mathematics 

Strong written communication (on paper!) is one of the most important areas of mathematics and something we want our students to continue to improve on during online learning. As such, each student has their own “Online Written Workbook” that they add their handwritten work to after most lessons and receive feedback (written, verbal or by video screencast). The bonus is that it gives them time away from the computer screen and keeps their work in the one place.

Lucy Lim – Year 13



Nathan Nguyen – Year 7


Early intervention is also something we value greatly in the maths department. Therefore, rather than waiting for students to submit a full piece of work we use tools such as Pear Deck and interactive whiteboards to check for immediate understanding. Here are some examples:

AAHL Mathematics: spot check on using counterexamples to disprove conjectures



Anushka Kapoor, Year 8: Spot check on degrees of accuracy


Virtual School Experience - harnessing the power of the internet to connect with a global Hispanic community


Just a decade ago the thought of students in Vietnam connecting with guest speakers in Columbia and Spain would have been a dream. Thanks to the power of the internet, that dream can become reality, as demonstrated in two of Ms Balbuena’s Spanish classes this week.

Spanish, a living language.

We had two special guests join our Spanish lessons this week from around the Spanish-speaking world. The first was Pedro Roman, a film director, who spoke with us about Madrid, it’s tourist attractions and many other interesting facts about the city. This was part of the “Holidays” topic in Year 10 IGCSE.


In Spanish B HL we were visited by Vivian Cubillos, a Spanish literature teacher, who talked with us about her compatriot, the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, his literary influence and particularly his book “El coronel no tiene quien le escriba". This is the book we are analysing for the course.

It was a wonderful experience for the students, who had the opportunity to practice their language skills and listen to two speakers from Spain and Colombia, as well as asking questions and conversing on a wide range of subjects in Spanish.



Virtual IGCSE & IBDP Options Events- Shaping Future Pathways

Teams 1 edited


For our Year 11 students preparing for the International Baccalaureate...

Making decisions begins with gathering as much knowledge as you can to inform the choices you must make: the Year 11 IBDP Options webinar this week was the opportunity for Year 11 parents and families to begin gathering the knowledge which will help them make decisions on their future pathways. 

A huge thank you to the families who were able to join us; for your reference, the recording of the webinar is available here and the passcode, should you require it, is 3D!fMi%I


For our Year 9 students preparing for the IGCSE...

The quest for knowledge to inform decisions continues next week for our Year 9 students and families, as they too begin their decision making process for the IGCSE options. 

The Year 9 IGCSE Options webinar will take place on Wednesday 22nd September at 4.15pm – please check your emails and ensure that you click the link to register for the event. 

The webinar will be followed with Parent Teacher Student Conferences (PTSC) on Thursday 23rd September and a Virtual Subject Fayre on Friday 24th September; staff will run Question and Answer sessions via Google Meet at 12.30pm, 12.45pm, 1.00pm and 3.00pm for students to ask any further questions that they may have after reading the options booklet, watching the screencasts and attending the webinar. Students can, of course, talk with their subject teachers and we actively encourage them to do so, both before and after the webinar and throughout the options process.

We look forward to virtually welcoming you to these events next week.

Amy Murphy 

Deputy Headteacher (Curriculum & Learning)

Virtual Sporting Co-Curricular Activities



The BIS HCMC sports stars are second to none. Not just in the city, but renowned all across Asia. As such, we could not go another term without our players working with our coaches to strive for greatness. 

Therefore, BIS HCMC sports department have introduced a two pathway Virtual CCA experience for our teams to enjoy in this period of being away from school. This has included a paid sports pathway with trusted third party providers, as well as a squad programme with BIS coaches. 

Click here to hear more from our Director of Sport, Phil Husband.

Phil Husband

Director of Sport

Virtual Acoustic Lounge - Friday 24th September


Next Friday, 24th September we will be hosting our first online Acoustic Lounge at 12.40pm.  Acoustic Lounge events are informal acoustic performances by any student and they are usually held in the library on the last Friday lunchtime of every month.

There is still time to submit your song videos for the show by Monday.

The Google Classroom link to submit your Acoustic Lounge performance is:  iecks7u 

Event Details

Date: Friday 24th September

Time: 12.40pm

To View: go to https://www.youtube.com/c/BISVietnam at 12.40pm Friday

A link for the concert will be published next week and we hope that you join us for this Friday lunchtime event.

Chamber Choir and Orchestra Auditions


Today is the final day for submitting your auditions for Chamber Choir and Orchestra.  The number of students putting themselves forward to audition has been fantastic and the Music Department are looking forward to listening to hundreds of videos over the next few days.

Please note the deadline for Concert Band auditions is next Friday 24th September. 

The Google Classroom link for Auditions (all groups) is:  sxtpitn

Ian Alexander

Director of Music

Peace One Day - Tuesday 21st September



This year, the Events Committee is very grateful for the opportunity to host the BIS Peace Day 2021. Apart from the virtual activities available on our Peace Day website, it would be great if students could also wear white on the day (21st Sept). Students don't need to dress entirely in white; a white top would be alright :) Despite the current circumstances regarding COVID 19, we are very excited to virtually celebrate Peace Day as a school :)

We look forward to seeing both teachers and students dressed in white!

Thank you very much,

Louise Lee and Mai Thao Tang 13I

Meet the New Teachers

Francisco Correia - Head of Design Technology


BA (Hons) Furniture & Related Products, Kent Institute of Art & Design, UK

PGCE Secondary Design & Technology, University of Greenwich, UK

An experienced teacher with over 14 years of teaching, Francisco joined the BIS community in 2021, along with his wife and two children, having previously taught in the UK, the United Arab Emirates, and Brunei. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, he completed his degree in Furniture Design, before quickly moving on to his PGCE. Once a student in an international school, Francisco always planned to teach in an international setting, specifically in Asia, a continent he spent many years in during his childhood. This is reflected in his teaching, where he aims to develop students into critical, analytical, and global citizens, capable of challenging the norm. Outside of school, Francisco spends most of his time with his family, but also enjoys cooking, travelling, taking the opportunity to explore different cultures and food, as well as pursuing his passion for photography.

Where have you moved to BIS from?


Why did you move to BIS? 

Eager to join a school with a positive, tight-knit community in an exciting location.

What has been the best experience for you since arriving in Vietnam?

By far the best experience since our arrival in Vietnam has been integration within the community of staff at BIS, making our family feel incredibly welcome very quickly. Whilst the current situation hasn’t been ideal for anyone, the staff have pulled together and helped each other in times of need, creating a true spirit of #TogetherStronger.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

I am an avid fan (and a collector) of LEGO.

Tessa Rankin - English Teacher


BA (Hons) Literary Studies, University of Greenwich, UK

PGCE English and Drama, University of Cambridge, UK

Tessa joined BIS HCMC in August 2021. She has taught English, and some Drama, in various International schools in Asia, Europe and the Caribbean, as well as in UK Secondary schools.  She has held various responsibility positions as Head of Department, Deputy Head of Sixth Form and Literacy Coordinator, and is currently pursuing her educational interests through a Masters’ in Education. In the classroom, she likes to encourage students to be curious about their world, their surroundings, and to inspire them to ask questions to further their understanding; as well as to cultivate the view that Literature offers a wonderful opportunity to access places and mindsets we might not otherwise engage with. Similarly, she enjoys promoting students’ exploration of language as a tool through which they can express ideas and feelings.  She has also been dedicated to involving students in co-curricular activities, which often stem from her own love of theatre, netball, and the ocean - more specifically scuba-diving. Outside of the classroom, Tessa loves to be on or below the water, often travelling to far flung places to undertake conservation projects or just to be closer to marine life! She also likes to keep active by playing netball, tennis and practising yoga - or relaxing by listening to music and picking up a good book.

Where have you moved to BIS from?

Spain ... Bali ... Turks and Caicos

Why did you move to BIS?

It is an exciting school with a lot going on; plus, I wanted to move back to Asia and I am really looking forward to exploring and learning more about Vietnam. 

What has been the best experience for you since arriving in Vietnam?

Getting my laptop bag back after losing it on the bus!

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

One of my favourite things to do is explore the ocean scuba diving - particularly if it involves hanging out with sharks :-)

Bryan (Chang-Chi) Chen - Chinese Teacher



PGCE Languages, UCL Institute of Education (IOE), London, UK  

Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, SOAS University of London, UK  

Master of Arts in Journalism, National Chengchi University, Taiwan 

Bryan (Chang-Chi) joined BIS HCMC in 2021 from Cambridge, England. He gained his Qualified Teacher Status in the UK in 2018 and has worked in a secondary school in Cambridge for three years. In addition to translation and speech coaching, Chang-Chi was responsible for coordinating and delivering the Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP), an intensive learning programme funded by the Department for Education, in school. Prior to his teaching degree, Chang-Chi taught Key Stage 1 to 5 and also tutored adult learners in London for two years. His interests include singing, walking, traveling, learning new languages and watching films.

Where have you moved to BIS from?

Cambridge, England

Why did you move to BIS?

I love new challenges and it was an exciting opportunity for me to start my new chapter in the international setting.

What has been the best experience for you since arriving in Vietnam?

Colleagues are very friendly and helpful.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

I was a journalist in a financial magazine before my teaching career.

Parent Partnership Events


We are delighted to invite all Secondary Parents to a series of Parent Partnership Workshops. Our first events focus on Learning and Wellbeing in a Digital environment. I do hope you can join us.

Tuesday 28th September : A Window into Virtual Learning:  Join us for a practical workshop to learn more about approaches and techniques that are shaping your child’s virtual learning experience.

Tuesday 5th October: Digital safety - how to support your child in making safer choices when online: join us for a practical workshop to learn more about social media platforms, digital footprints, gaming and how to balance screen time. Our Senior Leadership, Learning Technologies and Welfare and Guidance teams are looking forward to sharing some tips and resources with you in the interactive session.

Virtual PTG Meeting


On Tuesday of this week we held our first PTG meeting and it was great to catch up with our PTG members online. As the first meeting of the academic year, there was the presentation of PTG accounts, confirmation of PTG roles for the year ahead the confirmation of PTG Purpose Statement


Planning began for some online social, community and catch-up events and we will be sharing more over the coming weeks. 

It was great to see that the warm community spirit and fun of the PTG is alive and well and I look forward to  continuing to work with the team over the coming year.

If you would like to be involved in the PTG, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch at bisptgap2@gmail.com

World CleanUp Day - Saturday 18th September


The World CleanUp Day event will be held tomorrow Saturday 18th September. This year’s theme will be on ‘Digital Carbon Footprint’ and we will be hosting a workshop webinar on Microsoft Teams (9 - 10.15 am). During the workshop participants will have a 45 minute ‘CleanUp Your Database’ activity, and we will introduce the new student-led initiative: Green Network Saigon. Thank you to those who have already signed up.

During World CleanUp Day, we will also host the BIS ‘CleanUp Your Database’ competition. Students have the opportunity to reduce their digital carbon footprint anytime during the day for 45 minutes, and afterwards they record their results and how much storage data they’ve removed through this Google form. The house that removes the most storage space during the World CleanUp Day at the end of the event wins.

We look forward to your participation and enthusiasm towards the World CleanUp Day 2021!

Duc Huynh, Year 12

Green Network Saigon

Event Details

Date: Saturday 18th September

Time: 9am to 9:45am

Register: online

Blue Dragon Marathon Walk 2021


We have accepted the challenge and we would like to invite you to do so too!  

A reminder that next week we will be participating as a community in the Blue Dragon Marathon Walk 2021. This international event offers an opportunity to join people from all around the world as we go the distance to raise funds for our community partner Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.

BIS HCMC has entered three teams, one for each campus, and we are looking forward to having the entire BIS community join us in helping vulnerable Vietnamese youth break out of poverty!

For more than 15 years Blue Dragon Children’s foundation has been providing holistic care for those in need, whether a rural child who has found themselves alone on the streets of Hanoi searching for work, or a young woman who has been trafficked into China as a bride.  

Please join a campus team by clicking here to log your miles and make your donation.  For step-by-step instructions on how to make a donation, please click here.

We would encourage you to also watch this video which features one of the Blue Dragon children telling their story of how the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation impacted their life.

Thank you for your support.

Tracey Brownrigg
BIS Community Service Project Manager

Saturday 18th September: World Clean Up Day 2021, 9am to 9:45am online Database Cleanup webinar, open invitation.

Monday 20th to Friday 24th September: Blue Dragon Marathon Walk 2021

Wednesday 22nd September: Year 9 IGCSE Options Webinar,  4:15pm online by invitation to Year 9 parents and students.

Thursday 23rd September: Year 9 Parent Teacher Student Conference, online by invitation to Year 9 parents and students.

Friday 24th September : Year 9 IGCSE Options Subject Fayres, 12.30pm & 3pm, online by invitation to students

Tuesday 28th September: Parent Partnership Workshop Series: Window into Virtual Learning, For parents of all year groups.

Tuesday 5th October: PPWS: Digital Safety - How to support your child in making safer choices when online, For parents of all year groups.


Have a safe and restful weekend,

Kind regards,


Sean O’Neill
Head Teacher, Secondary Campus